How Dissertation Writing Groups Benefit Students

by | Published on Oct 18, 2019 | Dissertation Transcription

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As a digital transcription service provider, we provide accurate and timely audio and video documentation support for academic writing. Dissertation writing is a challenging task. It involves research, generating ideas, compiling and organizing relevant information, and polishing the text to produce an acceptable report. Dissertation writing groups help students navigate the writing process and produce a good dissertation.

Dissertation Writing Groups Benefit Students

When writing a dissertation, most students report experiencing issues such as lack of support from those who matter, feelings of disorganization and isolation, conflict with those in authority, stress, and burnout. By providing them with a supportive platform to collaborate and exchange ideas, dissertation writing groups help students overcome many of these problems.

Dissertation writing groups usually comprise 4 or 5 members of similar disciplines and stages who give regular mutual feedback on the research and writing process. Chapter drafts will be sent out to all members to read in advance. A facilitator will coordinate meetings and discussions. The members will give the writer written feedback in the agreed mode – on a separate response sheet, via e‐mail, or through oral comments in the meeting. At the end of a successful meeting, the writer will have research leads, different types of questions to answer, and, most important, inspiration.

Universities across the U.S. have dissertation writing groups. Take the RITM Dissertation Writing Group at Yale University. It brings together students from a variety of disciplines and provides them with a space for community, critical, interdisciplinary work, and accountability. The group meets regularly throughout the academic year and offers a great opportunity for students who want to share their work and receive commentary and critique from their peers.

In August this year, Daily Nous carried an announcement from the Joshua Smart (Ohio State University) on virtual dissertation groups (VDGs). The VDG is a free service that connects graduate students to provide feedback on dissertation work. It has students in programs from many states, countries, and every continent.

The main principle of a peer dissertation writing group is self-organization: the members have to agree when, where, and how often they will meet as well as the format that will be followed at each meeting. The most important benefit of a dissertation writing group is the regular feedback that students get on their research and writing process. Other key advantages include:

  • Emotional support during the research and writing process: support and motivation from peers and supervisors are important factors for writing success. As the Hume Writing Center, Stanford University notes, “Because you are all going through the same process, you can understand, vent, bolster, encourage, sympathize and crack the whip”. Such support is very valuable in to avoid isolation that often accompanies the dissertation process.
  • Keeps you focused to meet work deadlines: positive group pressure keeps you accountable for your progress goals and helps you avoid procrastination.
  • Continuous feedback on your work: A dissertation support groups can ensure clear, specific, non-judgmental feedback on your work on a regular basis. Getting continuous feedback from your peers can strengthen both performance and self-development.
  • Constructive criticism: When you get too bogged down into work, other eyes can see where there are issues. Constructive criticism from your peers can help you refine your writing. As the Hume Writing Center points out, peer mentors are usually tougher than faculty. In fact, the best way to practice a proposal defense or conference presentation is in front of this group. Students who are familiar with your work will ask harder questions, which will help you fix all the kinks.
  • Supplements input from faculty: Your peers can give you more time than your faculty can. When you are interacting with other students, there are no conflicts or power imbalances as may occur between faculty and students.
  • Builds confidence: Students face many confidence gaps in academic writing. Peer-collaboration helps identify the red flags in the dissertation draft and develop students’ confidence and competence as academic writers.
  • Builds research collaboration opportunities: A peer dissertation support group paves the way for research collaboration. For young scholars, writing an academic article requires a lot of preparation, a certain approach and enthusiasm. Dissertation research groups open up opportunities for successful collaboration with peers. Group members can offer new resources, perspectives and ideas, which can lead to original, productive work.

One of the ways to get the data for the dissertation research question is by conducting interviews. The common approach for dissertations is the one-to-one, semi-structured or structured interview. Most students rely on interview transcription services to convert the audio-visual content into text format. A reliable dissertation transcription service provider can be a great be of great help when it comes to getting the material organized quickly.

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